12 DAYS OF FEASTMAS: DAYS 7-12
The last-minute Christmas gift guide for the local-food chaser on your list
It's Sunday before Christmas. If you're still shopping, well then you're a terrible, terrible person. And you're a lot like me. We should have a beer together. Or some salumi. Or take a cooking class from a few meat guys who make us feel even more mannish. Or we could have a salad, if you're into that. Or scarf down pasta and quote Scarface all night. All of which you'll know how and where to do in San Diego after reading this—the end of our "12 Days of Feastmas" series. Consider this the last-minute gift-guide for the people on your list who love food, especially when it's made down the street by one of our homies. Merry Christmas.
DAY 7: HOUSEMADE PASTA
BENCOTTO: Bencotto makes pasta like Octomom makes babies—every day. The pasta-making crew is kept in a separate room from the kitchen staff to ensure they're not caught up in the rush. Classical music plays. It sounds romantic and cliche, as all the best truths do. They sell bags of the stuff at the restaurant. Get brunch at Monello on Sunday and pick up a bag next door at Bencotto.
ASSENTI'S PASTA: San Diego's legendary joint for fresh pastas. It's where I learned to resent the fact that bucatini had been absent for the first 30-plus years of my life. The Assenti family has been doing designer starch here now for 31 years. They'll treat you like family if you're a respectful person. If not, the Assenti brothers will stone-face you until you feel like weak, human angel hair. Check out their site here.
DAY 8: CARNIVORE CATNIP
P. BALISTRERI SALUMI: Tender Greens' exec chef Pete Balistreri is a self-taught meat genie, and one of the best in San Diego. He's currently selling his "Point Loma" salumi (rosemary and garlic) and Chili Flake and Fennel at the Point Loma location of Tender Greens. He's also rolling out his P. Balistreri Salumi company, and will be pushing big into local retail and high-end restaurants over the next few months with proscuitto, speck, salami cotto with roasted pistachios, spice rubbed coppa cotto, smoked guanciali and lardo. Stop by the Liberty Station location this weekend.
DAY 9: HEALTHY STUFF
SUZIE'S FARMS CSA: Got a chronic salad-eater? Or someone who cooks with things fresher than canned cream of mushroom? Suzie's Farms is one of the top organic farms in San Diego, used by a bevy of the best restaurants (Prepkitchen, Alchemy, etc.). It's the quintessential "gift that keeps on giving," so make sure the person you give it to is ready for a flood of fresh. Check out their subscriptions here.
DAY 10: GET 'EM LEARNED
IOWA MEAT FARMS: There are some great, worthy cooking classes by chefs at fancy restuarants around San Diego. But I've got a soft, carnivorous spot in my heart for classes by the city's legendary butchers, Iowa Meat Farms/Siesel's Meats. The two main men—chef Chris Brill and master butcher Stan Glenn—regularly teach sold-out cooking classes each month. Upcoming classes include "Pork: From Snout to Tail," "The Man Class" (teaching men how to grill, and how not to let testosterone get in the way of good food) and "Steaks, Steaks, Steaks." Stop by one of their locations, pick up a choice cut of meat (or Ibérico ham) for Christmas dinner and sign up the medium-rarist in your life.
DAY 11: BEER, OH GLORIOUS BEER
SOCIETE BREWING: Look, there literally dozens of quality microbreweries in San Diego right now. But the one that other brewers have talked to me about the most? Societe, which features the work of Travis Smith (formerly of Russian River and The Bruery) and Doug Constantiner (ex-The Bruery, too). Their Everyman's IPA is damnfantastic, tasitng of citrus and a Grateful Dead concert. Stop by their Kearny Mesa tasting room and get the crafty person on you list a stainless steel growler. Costs $25 to fill with a 1/2 gallon of beer, with each fill-up only $15.
BO-BEAU KITCHEN + BAR: Exec chef Katherine Humphus makes one hell of a Brussels sprous dish at O.B.'s little gem, Bo-Beau. A big part of its winningness is her balsamic port reduction (balsamic, Port and apple cider). She sells 8 oz. of that gold for $8. She also makes a mixed berry balsamic jam for sweet stuff. You can buy both at
the restaurant all year 'round.